Alternative Fuels

Iowa District Reports Cold-Weather Reliability of Propane School Buses

Posted on March 22, 2018
With temperatures as low as minus 30, Howard-Winneshiek CSD says its propane buses warm up in a few minutes.
With temperatures as low as minus 30, Howard-Winneshiek CSD says its propane buses warm up in a few minutes.

CRESCO, Iowa — A school district here is reporting success with the performance of propane school buses in frigid winter weather, according to a new case study from Blue Bird and Roush CleanTech.

Howard-Winneshiek Community School District (CSD) is located in northeast Iowa, where temperatures can drop to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The district’s fleet is composed of 23 diesel school buses and seven propane models, with two more slated for delivery later this year.

Brian Swestka, director of transportation for the district, said that the propane buses warm up in a few minutes, compared to 20 to 30 minutes for the diesel buses.

“Our propane buses perform flawlessly,” Swestka said. “They warm up substantially quicker than our diesel buses.”

Also, engine block heaters aren’t needed for the propane school buses, as they are for the diesel models during the winter. Overall, Howard-Winneshiek CSD has seen lower maintenance and operating costs for the propane buses.

“Propane buses require less maintenance than our diesel buses, and that means lower costs,” Swestka said.

Howard-Winneshiek CSD's yearlong data showed the average cost per mile for its propane buses to be about 60% lower than its diesel buses.

Meanwhile, the district reports that the biggest benefit of the propane buses for the drivers and students has been the warmer and quieter performance.

More details on the cold-weather operation of propane school buses at Howard-Winneshiek CSD and other districts is available in this case study from Roush CleanTech and Blue Bird.

Related Topics: alternative fuels, Blue Bird Corp., Iowa, propane, weather, winter

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